By Ryan Belnap and Dan Boone
NAU IDEA Lab
The new IDEA Lab documentary, Taking Earth’s Temperature: Delving into Climate’s Past, is a science discovery story that took us to Boulder, Colo., a remote region of Alaska and Switzerland.
Filming in a far-off, frigid location in the Arctic took considerably more planning than our usual films—both before the trip and in the field. Being hours away by plane from the nearest location requires a whole different way of thinking, living and handling camera equipment—from learning how to react to the approach of a polar or grizzly bear, to dressing for subzero temperatures, to keeping batteries warm during the cold winter night. (You sleep with them or they will discharge!)
We were lucky we had Arctic training and went out with an experienced team of researchers who knew their way around the snow and ice. When you have good gear, good people and best practices, you feel safe and warm. Still, when the temperature is minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit, everything is harder; even putting on your boots. Within an hour, the water in our Nalgene bottles started to freeze, and there were icicles on Dan’s moustache. Filming during a blizzard was a memorable and somewhat disorienting experience since everything looked white. Without a horizon, it was hard to get our bearing.
It was also sobering to realize that because of the remoteness of our location, if there was an emergency, we would have to deal with it ourselves. We knew we couldn’t replace our equipment, so we made sure we had more than we needed. But when the sun was out and the sky was blue, Alaska was incredibly beautiful and vaster than we had imagined.
If you’d like to hear more, come to the premiere screening of Taking Earth’s Temperature at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 10, at Cline Library Assembly Hall. There’s a story about a moose in Anchorage…